Education, Rehabilitation and Disease Management

Heart & Vascular Services
1350 Walton Way

The Area's Most Sophisticated 
Cardiovascular and pulmonary Rehabilitation Center

Patients with heart and lung disease learn to cope with their limitations and improve their quality of life at University's Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center, which is located on the first floor of University's Heart & Vascular Institute.

The center's three-phase Cardiac Rehabilitation Program helps patients recovering from cardiac surgery, heart attack or any cardiac event reduce the risk of further problems and live fuller, more active lives through monitored exercise, nutrition and stress management programs. The center also allows patients with diabetes, peripheral artery disease, hypertension and lipid abnormalities to exercise in a safe environment where they can be monitored by experienced clinicians who specialize in rehabilitation.

There's also a rehabilitation program for patients with congestive heart failure and a three-phase pulmonary rehabilitation program for patients with bronchitis, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Managing Congestive Heart Failure

University's Congestive Heart Failure program serves the needs of hundreds of people in our community who suffer from this condition. Initial examinations, a weekly heart failure clinic, a dedicated 24-hour congestive heart failure help line and regular calls from registered nurses reduce the hospitalizations and help these patients improve the quality of their lives. The program has reduced Emergency Department visits among participants by 60 percent.

Fostering Heart Health Through Education

When it comes to heart disease, the best defense is a good offense. That's why University offers a variety of services, classes, screenings and special events that encourage heart-healthy lifestyles. These include:

Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

People across the country are encouraged to fight heart disease by learning more about its risk factors, various warning signs for men and women, and lifesaving steps to take if you suspect a cardiac emergency.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 725,000 men and women each year. Forty-five percent of all heart attacks - one third of which are fatal - occur in people between the ages of 45 and 65. Though certain risks - such as gender, age and family history - cannot be controlled, lifestyle changes can minimize other risk factors including the following:

  • Diabetes. Ten to 11 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, five million more are undiagnosed and the rates are rising. In fact, the Augusta metropolitan statistical area has the highest incidence of diabetes in the United States, according to the National Research Corporation. The connection between diabetes and heart disease is undeniable. In many cases physicians treat people with diabetes as if they have heart disease. So control your weight and have your blood sugar tested.

  • High blood pressure. Fifty million Americans have high blood pressure, including 15 million who don't even know it. The main causes? Being overweight and eating too much salt. Have your blood pressure checked regularly and keep it under control through lifestyle modifications and medications if prescribed by your physician. New guidelines state that optimal blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mmHg, lower than previous recommendations.

  • High cholesterol. Your total cholesterol should be below 200. What's more, your LDL or "bad" cholesterol should be less than 100. Your HDL or "good" cholesterol, which helps the body clean up excess cholesterol, should be higher than 40.

  • Smoking. One in five heart-related deaths are attributable to smoking cigarettes. One pack per day doubles or triples your risk of heart disease. And living with a person who smokes one pack a day increases your risk by 30 percent if you are exposed to second-hand smoke.

  • Physical inactivity. Being physically inactive increases your risk of heart disease as much as smoking, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Still, 30 percent of American adults do no physical activity outside work and 44 percent do less than recommended. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes three times a week.

  • Obesity. Obesity can actually increase the risk of other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and physical inactivity. Yet 44 million Americans age 20 or older are obese. It's the single biggest health problem in our nation today.

Changing habits isn't easy, but experience shows that it works. The message is clear - by taking an active role in your own heart health, you can make a difference.

Different at Heart 

Men and women really are different at heart. Each year, nearly twice as many women die of heart disease as from all forms of cancer. And 44 percent of women who have heart attacks die within a year. But a woman's symptoms of a heart attack can be different from that of a man's. It doesn't always start with crushing chest pain. Instead, some of the most common warning signals for women are:

  • chest discomfort
  • pain spreading to the shoulders, neck, arm or jaw
  • indigestion or gas-like pain
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

If symptoms last for more than 15 minutes, seek medical attention immediately.

See your physician to determine if you are at-risk for heart disease.

Heartburn or Heart Attack?

If you think you may be experiencing a heart attack, but are unsure of your symptoms, call 911 immediately!